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The Mouse That Roared: Evoluent’s VerticalMouse Turns 15

You can argue that most tech products are designed to provide entertainment or increase productivity. Jack Lo’s VerticalMouse does the latter, but takes it to a whole ’nother level.

His breakthrough invention was simple in concept and born of pain: a computer mouse that supports the hand upright in a handshake grip, unlike conventional flat-handed mice that force the forearm to twist unnaturally.

Among the deskbound, the standard hand-over-mouse position may result in repetitive-motion ailments like bursitis that can cause discomfort or even disability.

Lo experienced the problem first-hand, and in 1994 developed and patented an ergonomically-correct mouse – that was rejected by every manufacturer he pitched.

After a more refined prototype was enthusiastically received at the 2001 Comdex, Lo and his wife Ping decided to dip into their savings and go into business for themselves by procuring a contract manufacturer in Asia.

After months of development work with the factory, the first VerticalMouse was released in 2002 under the Evoluent brand. The Lo’s became a two-person operation, with Jack handling industrial design, packaging, advertising, marketing, sales, public relations and tech support, while Ping processed and shipped orders from the garage, which doubled as their warehouse.

Despite rave reviews from tech pubs, a dearth of distribution dampened sales. But Lo continued improving the product with better shapes, styling, build quality, and pointer and button response, and several generations later introduced the award-winning VerticalMouse C in 2015.

Now distributed by Prestige International, which specialize in ergonomic workstation products, and IT resource ASI, the VerticalMouse C fits the hand naturally with indents for the thumb and pinky, and customizable fingertip controls for the thumb, index and ring fingers that allow for limited movement and relieve pressure on the wrist.

The device, which retails for $89.95 wired and $109.95 wireless, is compatible with PCs, Macs and Linux OS computers, and has received praise from doctors and ergonomists. Along with its VerticalMouse 4 variant and Lo’s expanded line of reduced-reach keyboards and wrist-comfort mousepads, it can variously be found at retailers including B&H, Best Buy, CDW, Jet, Newegg, Office Depot, Staples and Walmart.